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San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre Summer Shakespeare Festival Opens With Richard III

 

Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

The Old Globe Theatre of San Diego is one of America’s finest Regional theatres.  Their Shakespeare Summer Festival staged in the Lowell Davies Outdoor Theatre is a San Diego tradition always worth attending. 

     Theatre performances have been given in the Repertory format, in an outdoor setting for more than a half a century in the theatre complex located in Balboa Park (five minutes from Downtown).  The outstanding Repertory company of players performs June through September every year.

     A couple of seasons back former Globe Artistic Director Darko Tresynak decided to slip into the repertory rotation, two Shakespeare productions and one non-Shakespeare production as a way to vary and sweeten the theatre-going experience.  As a result audiences still see productions staged in the classic tradition, but have been written by more modern playwrights.   Last season audiences saw two Shakespeare productions and the richly textured, magnificent production  “Amadeus”, written by Peter Shaffer   This season, audiences will be treated to Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and “Richard III, along with the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee masterpiece, “Inherit the Wind”.

  

   Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is Shakespeare’s greatest villain/monster creation, hands down.  Under the direction of Lindsay Posner, Jay Whittaker (last season’s Mozart in “Amadeus”) brings a whinny, but snarling Richard for audiences to love/hate, depending on your personal predilection for the character.  However, Whittaker’s towering performance as Richard still instills fear and loathing no matter your loyalties.  It’s best to stay out of his way as he marches his way toward the throne.

      Yes there are obstacles in his way, but he merely removes them either by drowning them, assassinating them, or have them die in battles or under other mysterious circumstances.  He’s a bad dude!  And, did I mention that Whittaker relishes the role?  It’s a tour de force entertaining performance by Whittaker.

     Solid supporting roles abound and are solidly supported by a large and talented company (twenty nine plus).  Standout performances come from Robin Moseley as Queen Margaret, Jacques C. Smith as the Duke of Buckingham, Robert Foxworth as Lord Hastings, and Vivia Font as the vivacious but doomed Lady Anne.

     It’s always good to see onstage the reliable Joseph Marcell as the Lord Mayor, and Charles Janasz as Stanley, the Earl of Darby.  Also, young Aidan Hayek as Young Duke of York, has a future in the theatre should he be so inclined.  He has wonderful stage presence for one so young.

     “Richard III”, has a first-rate creative team led by the innovative and talented scenic designer Ralph Funicello, (nice projections on those graffiti-laden slabs enhance Act II’s coronation scenes), lighting designer Alan Burrett, sound designer Lindsay Jones, and costume designer Dierdre Clancy.  Although, I must say, Whittaker’s costumes look a little bit like he got his wardrobe from the “Star Wars” costume shop (lots of high-tech looking materials) in Act I.  Kudos also go to Fight Director Steve Rankin for his staging of the battles scene in Bosworth Fields.

     Director Posner launches the 2012 outdoor Summer Shakespeare Season with a winning, albeit a long production (almost 3 hours) of “Richard III.  The Summer Shakespeare Season runs through to September 29th.  For reservations and ticket information call the box office at 619-234-5625 or go online at www.oldglobe.org .